Classic Tuna Pasta Salad

Classic Tuna Pasta Salad

Classic Tuna Pasta Salad, perfect for a light lunch, an outdoor picnic, or a refreshing dinner option, this dish combines rich tuna with celery, red onion, peas, and tender pasta shells in a creamy garlic & dill dressing.

Why you’ll love it:

  • Budget-Friendly– this recipe can be made with just a few simple, inexpensive ingredients.
  • Ease of Preparation– this recipe is both quick and easy to prepare, making it a perfect option for busy schedules and those days you’re in need of a hassle-free meal.
  • Nostalgia– just like grandma used to make, a bite of tuna pasta salad can bring back memories of summer BBQ’s and family gatherings.
cooked pasta shells

Ingredient Notes:

Find the full list of ingredients and amounts in the recipe card below.

  • Canned Tuna– canned tuna packed in oil gives this recipe a rich flavor and is a nutritious source of lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins D & B.
  • Pasta– I use pasta shells, but any short-cut pasta will work for this recipe. Bow-tie or rigatoni are also great options.
  • Celery & Red Onion– adds a hint of spice, crunch, and color.
  • Dressing– a mixture of mayo, Greek yogurt, vibrant dill, dill relish, garlic, and Dijon mustard, creating a creamy and flavorful symphony of flavors.

Substitutions & Variations:

For decades, tuna pasta salad has stood as a timeless classic, and each family recipe adds their own unique touch. If you want to explore beyond the recipe provided, here are some alternative ingredients worth considering:

  • A splash of Lemon Juice– will give this recipe a touch of tang.
  • Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • Shredded Carrots- for even more crunch.
  • Diced Hard Boiled Egg- adds an extra punch of protein.
  • Canned Salmon or Chicken– in replace of tuna.
  • Sour Cream– is a great substitution for Greek yogurt.
tuna pasta salad with dressing

How to Make Tuna Pasta Salad:

  • Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil and cook pasta shells according to direction on package. Drain well.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add pasta shells, onion, celery, frozen peas, and drained tuna.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients until well combined.
  • Add half of dressing to pasta mixture, and stir to coat. Add more dressing to taste.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes to chill and serve.
classic tuna pasta salad

Which Canned Tuna is Right for You?:

  • Chunk Light Tuna (Skipjack)– boasts a more distinct flavor and darker hue than albacore. Its popularity stems from its cost-effectiveness, making it a common choice for salads, sandwiches, and casseroles.
  • Solid White Tuna (Albacore)– “white tuna,” or albacore tuna offers a lighter color and milder flavor in contrast to skipjack. It generally comes at a higher price point compared to chunk light tuna. Solid white tuna is the preferred choice for dishes that call for a more delicate tuna taste and a firmer texture.
  • In Oil vs. In Water– canned tuna is offered in oil or water. Tuna packed in oil is known for its richness and enhanced flavor, albeit with higher calorie content. On the other hand, tuna in water provides a leaner alternative, making it a suitable choice for individuals aiming to lower their calorie intake.
  • Seasoned or Flavored Tuna– some canned tuna offerings are pre-seasoned or flavored, featuring variations such as lemon pepper, herbs, or diverse sauces. These alternatives provide added convenience and enhance the flavor of your dishes.

Tips & Storage:

  • Peas do not need to be thawed before being added to the recipe; they will thaw rapidly. Including them while frozen contributes to maintaining their texture and consistency.
  • If unable to find fresh dill, dried can be used. Dried dill can be a bit more potent so use only half the amount listed.
  • Store leftover tuna pasta salad in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Consume the leftovers within 2-3 days of preparing the salad. As with any dish, exercise your best judgment regarding leftover consumption.
  • If making ahead of time, this recipe can be prepared up to 24 hours before your gathering. Keep in mind that the pasta absorbs some of the dressing over time. To preserve the freshness, you might opt to assemble the salad the day before and add the dressing just before serving.
tuna pasta salad

More Salad Recipes You Will Love:

If you try this recipe, please leave a star rating and review in the recipe card below! I always appreciate your feedback. Follow me on Instagram and Pinterest for more garlic goodness and travel inspiration!

southern style tuna pasta salad

Classic Tuna Pasta Salad

Classic Tuna Pasta Salad, perfect for a light lunch, an outdoor picnic, or a refreshing dinner option, this dish combines rich tuna with celery, red onion, peas, and tender pasta shells in a creamy garlic & dill dressing.
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 337 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 12 oz medium pasta shells
  • 2 cans tuna packed in oil drained
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/3 cup celery sliced
  • 1/3 cup red onion diced

For Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2-3 tsp dill relish
  • 1.5 tsp Dijon mustard
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil and cook pasta shells according to direction on package. Drain well.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add pasta shells, onion, celery, frozen peas, and drained tuna.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients until well combined.
  • Add half of dressing to pasta mixture, and stir to coat. Add more dressing to taste.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes to chill and serve.

Notes

  • Peas do not need to be thawed before being added to the recipe; they will thaw rapidly. Including them while frozen contributes to maintaining their texture and consistency.
  • If unable to find fresh dill, dried can be used. Dried dill can be a bit more potent so use only half the amount listed.
  • Store leftover tuna pasta salad in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Consume the leftovers within 2-3 days of preparing the salad. As with any dish, exercise your best judgment regarding leftover consumption.
  • If making ahead of time, this recipe can be prepared up to 24 hours before your gathering. Keep in mind that the pasta absorbs some of the dressing over time. To preserve the freshness, you might opt to assemble the salad the day before and add the dressing just before serving.
  • Nutritional Information is an estimate only and will vary based upon specific ingredients and amounts used.

Nutrition

Calories: 337kcalCarbohydrates: 22.7gProtein: 18.6gFat: 19.1gSaturated Fat: 2.8gCholesterol: 20.8mgFiber: 2.7gSugar: 3.5g
Keyword tuna pasta salad
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